Sebastian Vettel will start his two hundredth Grand Prix from Pole Position after a superb final lap in Qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday under the floodlights at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The German led a Scuderia Ferrari one-two, with Kimi Räikkönen joining his team-mate on the front, with the Finn losing out to Vettel for pole position despite having the advantage after the first runs.
However, whereas Vettel could improve on his second run, helped by not making a mistake at the final corner that he did on his first lap, Raikkonen was slower, and was forced to settle for second.
Valtteri Bottas got the better of team-mate Lewis Hamilton to qualify third, but third and fourth was not the result Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport will have wanted, particularly as Hamilton has a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox penalty that will mean the Briton will start ninth on Sunday.
Joining Bottas on the second row thanks to Hamilton’s penalty will be Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, who was 0.440 seconds off Vettel’s pole time, but perhaps the star of Qualifying came from behind the wheel of Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda, with Pierre Gasly set to start fifth, by far his best performance of his Formula 1 career to date.
Gasly will share row three with Kevin Magnussen of the Haas F1 Team, while Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Ocon will share row four for the Renault Sport Formula One Team and Sahara Force India F1 Team respectively, ahead of Hamilton and Carlos Sainz Jr. in the second Renault.
Max Verstappen crashed out of Qualifying with five minutes of the first session when he lost the control of his Red Bull on the exit of turn two and heading into turn three, causing a red flag in the process. The Dutchman speared into the barrier and heavily damaged the left front corner of the car, and he will start fifteenth at best on Sunday.
His mechanics will have work to do to prepare his RB14 for Sunday’s race, but Verstappen will be hoping to avoid any kind of grid penalty that would put him even further down the grid than he already is.
Brendon Hartley had his best Qualifying session of his career but missed out on the top ten by just a tenth of a second, with the Toro Rosso driver 0.051 seconds ahead of the second Force India of Sergio Perez, who will be scratching his head to how he ended up behind team-mate Ocon.
The two McLaren F1 Team drivers were also eliminated in the second session, with Fernando Alonso ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, 0.203 and 0.516 seconds slower than the cut off time of Ocon, with Verstappen not getting out on track following his Q1 incident.
Romain Grosjean was eliminated from Qualifying at the first hurdle, ending sixteenth fastest despite ending the session with an identical time to that of Alonso. Due to the Spaniard setting the time first, Grosjean ultimately lost out, with the Frenchman likely to be ruing a pair of scruffy laps, characterised by running across the kerbing at the final turn that lost him some momentum to the line.
Marcus Ericsson was the best place of the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team drivers in seventeenth, while team-mate Charles Leclerc was nineteenth but lost out on the chance of improving his time when he spun at the final turn in the final moments of the session, which also compromised the lap of Lance Stroll behind him due to the yellow flags.
Unfortunately for Stroll, he will therefore start the race from the very back of the grid, while team-mate Sergey Sirotkin was also eliminated at the first hurdle for the second consecutive race weekend, but unlike in Australia was able to out-qualify his Williams Martini Racing team-mate, albeit in eighteenth.
Bahrain International Circuit Qualifying Result
|1||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Scuderia Ferrari||1:27.958|
|2||7||Kimi Raikkonen||FIN||Scuderia Ferrari||1:28.101|
|3||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||1:28.124|
|4||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||1:28.220|
|5||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1:28.398|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||1:29.329|
|7||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1:29.358|
|8||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Renault Sport Formula One Team||1:29.570|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Sahara Force India F1 Team||1:29.874|
|10||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||Renault Sport Formula One Team||1:29.986|
|-||-||Eliminated in Q2||-||-||-|
|11||28||Brendon Hartley||NZL||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||1:30.105|
|12||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Sahara Force India F1 Team||1:30.156|
|13||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||McLaren F1 Team||1:30.212|
|14||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||BEL||McLaren F1 Team||1:30.525|
|15||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||No Time|
|-||-||Eliminated in Q1||-||-||-|
|16||8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Haas F1 Team||1:30.530|
|17||9||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team||1:31.063|
|18||35||Sergey Sirotkin||RUS||Williams Martini Racing||1:31.414|
|19||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team||1:31.420|
|20||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||Williams Martini Racing||1:31.503|